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The India-Bhutan border gates at Samdrup Jhongkhar and Gelephu along the Assam frontier will reopen for tourists from today. The decision to reopen the border gates for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began was taken keeping in mind the subsiding Covid cases.

The decision was taken at a meeting between Tashi Penjore, Bhutan's Director (law and order) of the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs and Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) officials on September 14 this year. 

After the meeting, Tashi Panjore said, “Government of Bhutan has officially announced that international border with India will be opened on Sept 23 as Covid cases have subsided. We prepare to open the border and give visitors a good experience" 

He added, "Over the last two-and-half years, many officials on both sides have changed and we were not able to meet and establish friendship and person-to-person contacts which are essential for people residing along the border areas of the two countries. We look forward to more such visits,"

The Bhutani official also informed that permits will be granted at three additional gates for tourists apart from the earlier Phuentsholing and Paro gates.

 The Bhutanese government is planning eco-tourism, bird-watching and other packages for the tourists and it would charge a Substantial Development Fund (SDF) for improving services and infrastructure. The visitors who would halt for the night and travel beyond designated points will also be charged 1200. 

The India-Bhutan border was closed for nearly two and a half years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The decision to close off the borders between the two nations was taken in a meeting between Tashi Penjore with the Commandant of the 15th Battalion of Sashastra Seema Bal, Neeraj Chand.

With inputs from Agencies

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